I love polenta! It is so versatile and really not nearly as hard as one might think. It’s gluten free it that is important to you, rustic, creamy and has great flavor. Fun fact: polenta is just corn meal. It can be cooked and served immediately like a savory porridge, but in this dish, we save it overnight and then fry it and top it with roasted vegetables and cheese.
This will recipe will serve four or two really hungry people.
Like all of my recipes, there are MANY variations. I will show you one version, and I encourage you to play. “Polenta” is the Italian version, but what we are making is typical in many South American dishes too.
3/4 cup polenta or corn meal
Water (according to package directions)
Any vegetables you would like to roast (I used mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, and red peppers.)
Any cheese (I used fresh mozzarella, provolone and Parmesean.)
Your choice of sauce. I suggest marinara, pesto or balsamic glaze. (I used the last two.)
First you need to cook the polenta or corn meal according to the package. The quick cooking variety I used took 3/4 cup polenta with 2 1/2 cups of water. Boil the water with a little salt and then add the polenta and stir briskly. You really need to keep stirring almost constantly with a whisk or good wooden spoon to avoid lumps and sticking. The quick cooking kind I made took 5 minutes, but regular cornmeal will take a bit longer. It needs to be very thick.
Pour the cooked polenta into a 9×13 baking dish for this recipe. If you make more or less, you can use a larger or smaller pan, so that it is about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure you spread it out evenly in the pan and put the pan in the fridge. This needs to set for at least four hours, but I usually do it the night before. You want it to be completely set and firm.
NOTE: Polenta can also be bought already prepared and all you have to do is slice it and fry it. Those are usually cylinders, so you end up with round disks.
Cut it into eight pieces and heat a pan on the stove with a bit of oil. You aren’t deep frying, but you do want a small pool or oil, not a dry pan.
Fry the polenta on a med-high heat. This takes a bit of time. I cooked each side about 8 minutes, but it will depend on the heat of the pan. You want them to be golden brown. (There were two more squares, which I cooked after.) Each serving in this in this recipe is two squares…or 4 if you’re really hungry!
I did a short video tutorial on how to do the polenta if you need some help!
In the meantime, you can be oven-roasting, grilling or pan sauteing your vegetables. I used garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and red peppers. This was the vegetables for two servings. You don’t want to over stack your stack, but again, this is all up to you. You can choose one vegetable per square or a stack of many. Maybe you have kids that will eat better if they get to pick and help, so let them decide if they want tomato or roasted carrots or whatever you want. Spinach is an option, eggplant…literally anything you like.
Once that is done, you are ready to assemble. Take a polenta square and top it. I did roasted garlic, then a slice of fresh mozzarella, one mushroom cap, one pepper, one zucchini and topped it with a slice of provolone.
All of this now goes under the broiler for about 5 minutes…but watch it so that it doesn’t burn!
I did this recipe as a video for a community-building project at work, so that’s why I have these. Here is me making the stacks if you want!
Carefully, put your stack on a plate and top with the sauce of your choice and grated Parmesan cheese. Below, I have balsamic glaze on the right and pest on on the left.
I mentioned this can be done in MANY different ways. Growing up, my mom made the cornmeal on a Saturday night and put it in a loaf pan. Sunday morning, she sliced it and fried it and we topped it with molasses, honey or maple syrup.
The recipe I made above could be topped just with mozzarella and tomato sauce.
You could change cuisines altogether and top it with refried beans or black beans and cheese. It is great with just cheese and guacamole and pico de gallo.
Think of this like bread, tortilla or pasta and top it with WHATEVER you want! Enjoy this gluten free, versatile and easy treat!
I had some left over polenta all ready to go, so this morning I put my poached eggs on top with cheese, salt and pepper!
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